On tonight's Dancing With the Stars, the celebs have been tasked with creating a dance that tells a personal story. Hopefully this goes better than when people try to do original songs on American Idol! They had to choose a song with a personal connection, and then create a dance to work with it.
Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani are first. She wants to tell the story of getting started in radio, where she would steer clear of friends and family because she didn't want to talk to friends and family about her dreams and how she was planning to achieve them. Her song is "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," and they are doing the foxtrot. She's showing more emotion than, say, the first week, but much of the rest of it seems really subdued, like she's just wandering around the stage. And this song is a weird fit with foxtrot. Head judge Len Goodman says it's difficult to express emotion through a dance. He says he knows she worked extremely hard, but this lacked fluidity and wasn't great to watch. "It was suited to the radio." Bruno Tonioli agrees that it wasn't gliding or smooth, "at times it looked like you put down roots." Carrie Ann Inaba says she respects a woman who follows her dreams, but she worries Wendy took a little step backward. Scores: 5-5-5, for a 15/30.
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas hope to recover from last week's ill-received jive. Her song is "Chelsea," which was actually written for her by her first love, and the dance is the cha cha. Their dance is fun and energetic. I'm a little put off by the silly faces Chelsea is making because it adds a tinge of awkwardness to everything. But generally, it's entertaining. Bruno: "Chelsea, Chelsea, sexy, sexy." He goes on. A lot. Carrie Ann says she is a big fan of love and romance and of that cha cha. She calls Chelsea "a little mini Julianne." Her one note is to work in her hip action a bit. Len: "I remember my first love, and she didn't look anything like you." He makes a comment about "Sally Frostyknickers," and what is going on here? Anyway, he loved it. Scores: 8-7-8, for a 23/30.
Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke are next. Chris' song is "Let It Be," which reminds him of all his memories about his mother, who was in an accident. He tried to quit wrestling to take care of her, but she wouldn't let him. He says she deteriorated until she passed away in 2005. He says she was a huge fan of dancing, and Cheryl says they will fill their rumba with soul, rather than sexiness. Their dance is gorgeous and fluid and powerful; I'm impressed. Carrie Ann can hardly talk because she's crying (this might also be affecting my typing). She says the emotions were amazing, though his hip action was a little strange. Len says there weren't enough arms, which meant the dance lacked fluidity, but his lines and poses were excellent. Overall, he thinks Chris did an excellent job. Bruno says they brought a very warm feeling to this performance, and overall, he did a good job. Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Kendra Wilkinson tells Louis Van Amstel that she's picked "You and Me" by Musiq Soulchild because it tells the story of her relationship with her husband, Hank, and how they got through all the hating when they first got together. In rehearsal, she is uncomfortable acting sexy around Louis, which kind of boggles the mind because she managed to act sexy around Hugh Hefner. At least Louis is closer to her age group! (Hopefully this doesn't put me in with the haters.) She seems to shelve that awkwardness during the performance, and they have moments that are quite lovely. Len felt there was some unnecessary gyrating and some wobbly moments. He was impressed, however, how well she's taken his notes on her legs and feet since week 1. Bruno says, "There is nothing wrong with a good stripper!" He says it was hot and arousing, and that she did a very good job. Carrie Ann says it was hot-hot-hot and that she was celebrating her sensuality. Scores: 8-7-8, for a 23/30.
Romeo and Chelsie Hightower are working with "I'll Be There," which he will be dancing to in memory of two of his cousins who died tragically, separately. They're dancing the rumba, but also going for a more emotional than sexy approach. It's very sweet and soulful. Bruno says they were connected and involved, but his footwork went a little bit astray, but it was still a fine dance. Carrie Ann says it was very nice how committed emotionally he was to the dance, and she says he refined his movements like she asked last week. Len says last week was a big step forward and this week was a huge step backward. Scores: 7-6-7, for a 20/30.
Hines Ward has chosen Earth, Wind and Fire's "Fantasy," which reminds him of his mother. He and his partner Kym Johnson are doing a samba "as a thank you to his mom," she says. They are full of fun and life and definitely have the party vibe. They have a little bobble toward the end, but everyone recovers, and he even gets the terrible towel (grrr) out of his pocket at the very end. Carrie Ann: "BOO-YAH, baby!" She tells him he was dancing like he was dancing the samba his whole life. Len says he is proud of him. Bruno calls it an uplifting expression of happiness, with bouncing and butt-shaking. Scores: 9-8-8, for a 25/30. (Side note: Hines' mom is in the audience and she's so adorable and so obviously excited for him.)
Petra Nemacova chooses "You Raise Me Up," which she listened to after revisiting the area destroyed by the tsunami she was in. Dmitry Chaplin works on the choreography for the waltz -- and helps Petra work on her posture. In the performance, you can see that Petra has been working on her lines and the fluidity. Len says it had grace, elegance and fluid movement, and that this season is his favorite because everything is always changing and that at this moment, she is the one to beat. Bruno says she danced like an angel. Carrie Ann says her heart was all over all her movement. Scores: 8-9-8, for a 25/30.
Sugar Ray Leonard's song is all about beating the odds in his boxing career. The song is "My Prerogative." Anna Trebunskaya helps him bring his intimidating spirit out onto the dance floor too as they work on the paso doble. He definitely shows more energy and heart on the floor, but some of the footwork is still a little wacky. Bruno thinks he is back in business, but he needs to work on his Spanish lines a little more. Carrie Ann says she saw a lot of improvement. Len says each week his opponent is a dance, but this week he fought back and dominated that dance. Scores: 7-6-7, for a 20/30.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy will be doing the rumba, and she has chosen "Over the Rainbow." For her, the song embodies "the hopefulness after the despair," in the moment in 1980 where over the course of 72 hours she lost her mother, almost lost her father and got her first movie role. In the performance, after the first step, they fall, and Maks is clearly in pain, possibly his ankle? He power through it, including through a series of turns. It's very sweet, but clearly, the whole thing is dominated by how Maks is handling his injury. He tells Tom that his "thigh gave out." Carrie Ann says something magical happened after their stumble at the beginning, when they were clearly determined to make it through, and they did. Len says they got through it; "well done." Bruno says you can't keep good talent down, and once they got up, "it was better than ever." Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Ralph Macchio chose the song "Stay Gold," from The Outsiders, which was also his wedding song 24 years ago. He and Karina Smirnoff are also doing the rumba. I guess a lot of the songs that were chosen wouldn't work with anything but rumba. They dance, and it's quite lovely, closing with Ralph running over to his wife to give her a kiss. Len says it needed more refinement and more hip action, but "the overall look was very appealing." Bruno says he still has statue hands, and that he deals with Karina like she's too hot to handle and he doesn't know what to do. Carrie Ann says it was a sweet rumba, but he does need to work on his core strength. Then the judges fight for a while. Awkward! Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
What an interesting night. There were a lot of strong moments, and many touching ones, too. Wendy's score is so much lower than everyone else -- and she is so polarizing -- that I suspect she is out tomorrow night. What do you think?
Video courtesy of ABC